Tips For Landing A Guest Post Every Time

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A guest post by Ann Smarty of MyBlogGuest.com

Ah, guest posting. While blogs were once a fringe activity similar to writing a journal, they now represent a great bulk of much of the average freelance writer’s work. If you own a blog yourself you have probably written guest posts before, or written them for someone else. If you are a writer you will probably regularly look for chances to expand your visibility by searching out chances to get involved with various high-profile sites.

But if your application process is specifically aimed at getting approved for a post you are doing it wrong! Your focus is not in the right place and it might be costing you your chances. Instead, use these ten tips to help you land the spot every time.

Tip #1 – Focus On What THEY Need, Not What YOU Want

You have a great idea for a post about how iPhone apps can be used to increase market visibility, and you know just the blog to pitch the piece to. Having read their blog many times before, you remember a similar piece done just a few weeks ago. So you eagerly shoot off an email along with the headline idea, confident that this post you want to write will be well received. A few days later you get a big, fat no.

What happened?

Really, it should be obvious: a similar piece was already written on the topic a short time before. Therefore, it is needed. However much you wanted to write it they have no demand, and so you won’t land the spot. You should have taken that into account before offering your services, and shown that you were aware of what they needed.

Not only will it give them a chance at using something they require during that time, but it will show that you are a regular reader. It will also put off a professional and competent air, and that means everything in a business where any blogger is taking a chance when they hire a guest poster. Add that to the fact that you come off as considerate and you have a recipe for a good working relationship.

Tip #2 – Be Personable and Friendly, Not Cold and Calculated

There is nothing I hate more than an overly formal, cold sounding pitch letter. I am looking for someone approachable that my readers can really relate to, and who can have a sense of humor with a dash of cutting sarcasm to go along with their informative posts. In other words, I want a real human being who I can talk to and who I know those who visit my blog will like. Not some robot who knows how to use fifteen ten-syllable words in a single sentence. I have a thesaurus built into my OpenOffice for that, thanks.

The second you open yourself up by applying as a guest poster, make sure some of your personality comes through. You can remain professional without sounding toneless, and be proper without being cold. The friendlier you sound, the more likely you will be to catch their interest. Otherwise it sounds like you are reading from a pre-made letter. Who wants that?

Tip #3 – Watch Your Tone

I have lost track of the times when I had read a pitch that sounded like the person was doing me a favor. “I am an excellent writer, highly skilled, and I have this post idea I know you and your readers will love! Let me know when it is up, please.” This is a line taken directly from a pitch I received just a few days ago. I saved it in order to show you an example of a quick way to be turned down.

Not only was he talking himself up immediately, but he assumed that I was just going to put it up on my blog. He didn’t ask, he didn’t give me a chance to read it first, he just made the aggressive move of telling me to let him know when it was published. What a jerk! Would you go to a job interview and end it by asking your potential boss when you start?

He may have thought he sounded confident, but he just came off as arrogant. Plus, the post wasn’t anywhere near the quality I demand of my guest posters.

On the other hand, sounding too submissive is also a turn off. I have gotten emails from people begging to write for me, or asking for links. It is annoying and I tend to just ignore them outright.

Tip #4 – Don’t Be Intimidated…You Are Equal

When dealing with one of the “Blogerati” and celebrity writers that have taken over the Internet with their popular sites, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. These are successful people who have gained actual status in cyberspace, which is not that easy to do. With such a huge wash of blogs out there, they managed to claw their way to the top. They are the Perez Hilton’s and Jason Chen’s, and you might feel intimidated.

But remember, they were just like you once. They are regular people who are running a business and know what it is like to just start out. They had to work to get there, and they are usually pretty nice people. Remain friendly and natural, and acknowledge their success without fawning over it. These are writers, not rock stars.

Tip #5 – Have a Good Sense of Humor

I go through endless guest blog requests a month. So many that they tend to swim in front of my eyes and leave my brain the moment I read them. It takes something special to really catch my attention, and humor is a big factor. If you can make me laugh then I will remember your email forever. You will also be much more likely to get on my list of published bloggers, because it shows me you can add that humor to your writing.

That doesn’t mean you should make everything into a joke. But show me you can turn a couple of things into that direction and you are golden.

Tip #6 – Research, Research, Research

One of the most aggravating things I see is someone applying to guest post without any knowledge of my blog. Honestly, you would think that they would take a little bit of time to get to know me and what it is I do. Maybe read a few posts, check the FAQ page, read updates on projects. Anything.

But so many completely ignore this part and instead offer unrelated posts or at times when the last thing I need is more content.

Before you shoot off that eager email, take some time to study the site. Look at what it is all about and what has been going on recently. Check posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. See if there is anything from the past you could properly update that got a lot of attention but hasn’t been covered in awhile. Research the blog, not just the post!

Tip #7 – Compliment The Blog, But Don’t Overdo It

“Oh my God, I can’t believe how amazing your blog is! I read it every day and you are the best in the whole of cyber space. Seriously, everyone else is horrible in comparison to you. Someone asked me the other day who my hero was and I totally said it was you!”

A little much? Yeah, I thought so too.

Throwing a compliment or two to show why you want to write for a particular blog is a great idea.

Be specific about what it is you like, and maybe reference a post you especially enjoyed. Show that you appreciate the site because not only will it offer a little flattery to the owner, but it is will show you both know and will care about the blog before you begin writing for it.

Just don’t go too far. It isn’t about brown-nosing, after all. Plus, most can tell the difference between real and fake flattery.

Tip #8 – Introduce Yourself Without Writing a Biography

Of course the blogger want to know a little bit about you: where are you from, what are you interested in, what do you do? Basic questions that any survey would probably ask, mainly to get an idea of who you are and what you will be able to write about.

But notice how I said a little bit. No one wants to read a biography about you, not an introductory email. Offer up a few small facts about yourself and leave it at that. Anything else should be specifically about your work experience, and even then only a few choice bits you are especially proud of.

Tip #9 – Show What You Got

When I was first starting up I would always offer a small list of three links that showed off online work I was really proud of. These were my “samples”, and it was usually on those samples alone that I got work. They showed that I could write well and covered a broad range of topics.

Remember when you are linking your own samples not to do too many. Three is usually any ideal amount, as it is enough to show consistency. You should also try and link to at least one related to the topic you are applying to post about. Though that isn’t actually mandatory.

Tip #10 – Drop a Few Names

Yeah, it sound like a cheesy move. But dropping the names of a couple of blogs along with your pitch can really help to show that reliable sources have published you in the past. Of course, you don’t want to do too many of these. Just name off two or three places that have hired you in the past. You can attach those to links for your samples as well.

Land The Post Every Time!

See, it isn’t that hard. These are some common sense rules that are nevertheless violated on an alarmingly regular basis. If you keep these tips in mind you will be sure to greatly improve your chances to getting that guest post of your dreams.

Find out more on guest blogging at MyBlogGuest.com

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Guest Blogging – Becoming a Guest Blogger

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Yesterday we spoke about having someone Guest Blog on your blog. On the other side, being a guest blogger for someone else’s blog can also have a dramatic effect on your traffic and readership, so is well worth giving a go.

I don’t have time!
If you have time to write on your blog, you have time to write on someone else’s. And if you’ve got a guest posting on yours, that frees you up to write for another blog doesn’t it?

Who would want me?
You’d be surprised – some people are crying out for guest bloggers, and some people would be, if they knew that they existed!

So where do I start?
Much the same as you did when looking for your guest blogger. Decide the types of sites and blogs you would love to be associated with and approach them with the idea.

Ask a client
If you’ve done a good job for a client, ask if you guest post on their blog – they’ll be unlikely to say no. You could talk about the work you’re doing for them, what it’s like working with them, or something completely unrelated to the work you’re doing together, but mutually beneficial.

A supplier
The same as before, this is pretty safe and a supplier is usually pretty happy to have you give them a guest blog or two if you can relate it to their industry.

A competitor
This is a difficult one as his first impression will probably be to say no (let’s face it, when I said this before, yours was, wasn’t it?). But I do believe that there’s enough business out there for everyone and cross promotion is good, so think about giving it a go, and explain the benefits.

A related business
It could be a partner company, a company you speak to on Twitter or LinkedIn, or just a company blog you admire.

Find a blog
Get onto Google blog search and search for companies similar to yours – you should be able to draw up a shortlist of the type of blog you’d like to guest post to.

A guest blog blog
Look around at blogs that you see accepting guest posts, whether generic or focused. Lots of blogs now ask for guest bloggers, so it’s worth looking out for that too.

Are you a female blogger?
Consider asking for a guest slot on Birds on the Blog – a magazine themed blog with women blogging about everything from business to motherhood, diversity and equality to kitchen design, and everything in between.

A male blogger?
Consider their brother site Blokes on the Blog – similar diverse blog topics, but by Blokes. Both of these sites happily accept guest bloggers.

The new blog
Although there’s not much of an audience, guest posting on a new blog can be a great thing to do, as not only are you generating loyalty, you’re also sure that the blog owner is in the first flushes of enthusiasm and will be promoting it like mad.

The approach
Suffice to say, the email, leave it a while, follow up, don’t badger, don’t give up, but don’t become a stalker advice works here too.

Explain the benefits
Let the blog author know the benefits to them – a day that they don’t have to write content, you promoting the blog for that day, fresh eyes, a new audience, more traffic. Tell them what’s in it for them.

Deliver what you promise
As before, agree everything up front, and make sure you deliver what you promised, on time and with the elements (pictures, links etc.) that you said you would.

Don’t forget YOU!
Time and time again I get guest blogs with no info about the author on them – at the very least write an introduction to yourself as the opening paragraph, or an author type resource box at the end. That’s YOUR payment for providing free content for someone else’s blog – make sure you claim it!

Promote it!
Make sure you do your best to promote your guest post – after all that’s part of the deal really – you’ll tell your contacts about your post on their blog. Email it, blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, LinkedIn it, phone and tell your mum etc. etc.

Ask for stats
You want to know how well your post did in order to know whether to guest blog again for that publication. How many views did it get? Did any of them follow links to your site (you did remember the links to your site didn’t you?)
This is valuable info to help you to work out the best sites to spend time on and which ones to only blog for occasionally.

Review it
Look at the time you spent finding blogs to guest on, emailing the authors, writing the blog, checking the stats etc. Was it worth it for the results? Only you know what results are good – it maybe readers of your blog, newsletter sign ups, emails, retweets etc. – only you know so sit down and have a think. If it was, do it again!

Becoming a guest blogger can be hugely rewarding and lots of fun, but it’s easy to get caught up in it and let your own blog slide. Remember the whole aim of this is to build your readership and your leads / sales – so be strong, but enjoy it!

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Guest Blogging – Receiving Guest Bloggers

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Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the words won’t flow. And when that’s the case, and you’ve used up all your spare blogs, well there’s only one thing for it – bring on the guest blogs!

A guest blogger is someone who comes along and has a blog published on your website. You may have asked him (or her) or he may have requested a spot, but guest bloggers can be a boon to a busy blog, and even to a not so busy one.

You get content, a new audience (he’s bound to tell all his contacts about his guest spot). He gets a new audience (yours, who may follow him back to his blog) and promotion (you’ll tell everyone you know about his guest slot).

So let’s find a few guest bloggers, shall we?

Ask a client
A safe first option as a guest blogger is probably a client who will say nice things about as well as get to promote her own blog and service (subtly, as with any blogging). This works especially well if your service and products bear relation to one another, but can also work if they don’t.

A supplier
Again, pretty safe and can work well either way. Not very exciting though is it? And you’ll soon run out of people.

A competitor
A brave move, and not one a lot of people would take, but a lot of times worth the risk. Let’s face it, he’ll have to reciprocate and you both have pretty much the same potential clients.

A related business
Probably the easiest and the best is to look at a related business and see if they’ll guest blog for you – if you have a similar market they may say yes and you’ll both win.

Look in the comments
If you have an established blog you may have some people who regularly comment and would jump at the opportunity to guest blog for you.

A celebrity
Whether your idea of a celebrity is Chris Evans or Chris Brogan, it won’t hurt to ask them to guest blog.

(A clue though, Chris Brogan is more likely to say yes than Chris Evans!) The worst they can do is ignore you…

The prolific blogger
He posts a blog post every day, is always promoting his blog posts and never seems to have time to work – grab him before he starts another post for his own site!

The already guesting blogger
Everywhere you go you see her posts, and she seems to be in with all the right people. This means she has a huge audience, but is also happy to blog on smaller blogs, so what have you got to lose by asking her?

The new blogger
He’s only just started his blog, so he’s not got much of an audience, but he’ll have enthusiasm and tell everyone he knows he’s guested on your blog. And who doesn’t want to help a new blogger?

He who doesn’t
He doesn’t have a blog, doesn’t want a blog and thinks blogging is for mugs. But he has content, and he needs to put it somewhere – give him a spot and he’ll promote you for life.

Invite them in
If you know them, speak to them however you would normally, but if you don’t, a polite email is best, asking them if they would like a guest spot on your site.

Don’t forget
Remember to send them the URL and explain your ‘niche’.

Don’t badger
If you haven’t heard in an hour, don’t send them another seven emails saying the same thing – you’ll just annoy them.

But don’t give up
Give it a week or so and then drop another polite email – it could be that they didn’t get the first, were too busy to read it, had a VA delete it by accident.

Wait a little longer
I’d leave it another month or so before approaching them again. It may be that the time isn’t right, or that they just don’t want to do it – the polite ones will email you back and let you know the situation though!

They said yes!
Well done you! Thank them and now let’s agree some ground rules

Tone and Subject
What do you want them to write about? What do they want to write about? Do you want something funny or serious, businesslike or chatty? Talk about this up front so that everyone knows what they’re letting themselves in for.

Length / Number of Words
You don’t want them sending you a couple of paragraphs when you expected a thousand words, so agree up front how long the piece will be.

Pictures?
Who is going to source the pictures? You or them? Free or paid? Make it easy by deciding these things up front and letting your guest blogger know. (I would say that I would deal with pictures but the final choice was theirs if they didn’t like the ones I’d chosen – but then I have a strange sense of humour when it comes to blog posts and images….

Payment?
Be clear up front if you’re not offering payment. Don’t panic – in most cases you’re not expected to, guest bloggers do it for free, but some high profile bloggers have been known to ask for a fee. Agree it up front – that way everyone knows what to do.

Date for submission
Try and get your blogger to send you the piece a few days before you need it, so you’ll have a chance to look it over, make any amendments agreed, upload it and schedule it to go.

Date for publication
Agree a date for publication and stick to it. Your guest blogger will probably have told people that they’re appearing on your blog and won’t want to be disappointed.

Introduce your guest blogger
Don’t just stick their post up there as a normal post – introduce them:
“Today we have a guest post from Nikki Pilkington. Nikki runs NikkiPilkington.com, a successful Internet Marketing Company based in the UK and France. She has been promoting websites for 15 years and today is going to talk to us about blah blah blah”
Followed by the post.

Alternatively
Another way to do it is just to say ‘A guest post by Nikki Pilkington’ , then have the post, then put the author info in a box at the end of the post.

Remember the links!
Probably one of the main reasons your guest author wants to post is to have the links back to his or her website – make sure they’re there and make sure they’re correct before publishing. This is also another good thing to have agreed up front – how many links and where in the piece they can appear.

Feedback
From your blogs stats (you do have stats don’t you?) let your guest blogger know how their post did on the day, and then again maybe a week or so later. They’ll want to know how many readers it had, at the very least, but you may be able to tell them other info such as how many people clicked through to their site, how many people came to the post from search engines, what they searched for etc.

How to get stats?
Consider installing the WordPress.com stats plugin – Once it’s running it’ll begin collecting information about your pageviews, which posts and pages are the most popular, where your traffic is coming from, and what people click on when they leave. It’ll also add a link to your dashboard which allows you to see all your stats on a single page.

Get Clicky
I’m also a huge fan of Clicky web stats which allows you to ‘spy’ on your visitors, in that you can see which pages they’re visiting in real time. It allows you to see the reaction to your Tweets and promotion of a post immediately. You can get it at Get Clicky.

Something different please
If neither of those grab you, then Mashable did a round up of 30+ WordPress plugins for statistics that may have something you like.

So please consider finding guest bloggers for your website – it’s not difficult and it can help to expand your blog readership dramatically.

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